Spring brings fundraising frenzy for GOP hopefuls

By Beth Fouhy

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, April 24 2011 9:24 a.m. MDT

"He's not in the front-runner position, so he'll have to make a lot more friends before raising money," said Phil Handy, a former Bush and McCain fundraiser in Florida now helping Pawlenty. "We have some ground to make up, but we feel good about it."

Barbour, who's expected to join the field as early as this coming week, has met with potential donors while traveling to early voting states. He has an extensive fundraising network from his political and lobbying careers but aides are playing down what he will raise in the April-June period. They say it will take some time for those contacts to bear fruit for Barbour.

Several potential contenders probably will be able to sidestep the scrutiny that will come when the three-month totals are reported in mid-July.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman won't return from China, where he is serving as U.S. ambassador, until the end of this month. He has been legally barred from making any significant campaign moves until then. He's expected to disclose in the coming weeks whether he will run. Expectations are high that he will. His personal wealth and links to the moneyed Mormon community could help his fundraising; his work in the Obama administration could hurt.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa caucuses but little else, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, are well-known national figures. Because of that, they may have an easier time raising cash than others if they decide to get in the race. Donald Trump, the real estate developer and reality show host, has said he will announce his plans in June.

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